I read an article last week about something called the Superman Effect. The term was used by a man named Aral Balkan to discuss the influence that designers have and how they are able to craft experiences. What I liked most about this post was how its author related it to education in saying that “As teachers we have to recognise that every interaction we have with young people is an opportunity to have a positive impact upon them. Teachers are artists and lessons are our art. Being passionate about our subjects mixed with a continued desire to improve and develop our pedagogy is key to providing the ‘Superman effect’ for our students.” The author then discusses the significance of making students feel like super heros and how educators should take such into consideration. The entire blog post can be found here.
This article spoke to me on many different levels. First, I absolutely believe in making students, all students, feel valued, respected, and intelligent. This is shown by how they light up when they truly understand something and when they are commended/praised. I enjoyed seeing that when I taught ESL. However, I was in a situation where as a student, I felt worthless. Math was never an easy subject for me, and of course it didn’t come any easier in college. Unfortunately for me, the professor that I had made it worse. One of his favorite lines was “C’mon guys, this is fifth grade stuff” or “You should know this material already.” It was awful. And so, of course, my colleagues and I were afraid of asking questions because the material was “fifth grade stuff” and even when a question was asked, we were sometimes told that we “should know this already.” It was so bad that when he asked,“Does anyone have any questions?” more than once, I would raise my hand and say, “Yes, can we please stop for today?” And although my colleagues all nodded in agreement, this was, of course, to no avail. As a result of all this, I got a D in that class, hated math more than ever, thought I was dumb for not knowing more math than I did, detested this professor, and spent most of that class fantasizing about chopping off his ponytail.
Students are not the only ones that should be treated like super heros. Yes, I’m talking about teachers as well. Teachers are the super heros that are hardly recognized or appreciated for being such. It’s like they live their entire careers as Clark Kents. Some teachers are literally the super heros to many of their students. I get so frustrated because many do not realize or appreciate how different society would be if teachers and educators were not available to inspire and educate. And so, I will say it again: Where would we be if teachers and educators were not available to inspire and educate?
Education is about super heros teaching super heros. And this needs to recognized more than ever.
I believe this to be another one of those topics that is not talked about enough. At this time of year college basketball is extremely popular. In the fall along with the NFL, college football and high school football are very popular as well. Families and money-grubbing organizations are thrilled and excited about these sporting events and the players involved. There is much happiness and honor for the families that watch their very own compete and win (hopefully), and there is happiness and honor for the players that are doing what they love and being good at it (hopefully). Now if these high school and college athletes are indeed good at what they do, it is the hope that they will have the opportunity to be recruited by a college or a professional team. More happiness and honor for the players and families. This is great, but how important is education? For example, if a high school football player is recruited by a college, is the decision to play for that school based on the school’s sporting reputation and “incentives”? Or is it based on the academics that the college has to offer? Sure the recruiters will tell the player (namely, the parents) that the school has the best courses to offer, blah, blah, blah. They’re a recruiter. They’re suppose to tell you that. What about when a college athlete receives an offer for the pros that would mean leaving school early? Do they forsake their education for the money, fame and the possible chance that they could be successful in the big league?
What if both the high schooler and college athlete end up doing terrible? Where does that happiness and honor go? There was the hope that they would be successful in their sport, and because so much emphasis was placed on that, they may have nothing to fall back on if that dream fails. The questions of “what if I am not successful?” and “what if I don’t make it to the big leagues”? are not asked enough. I truly believe in the saying that education is something that no one can take away. One may eventually become successful, but that success fades. Success may never even come. One may be a great player at whatever sport, but what happens if they have a horrible injury? What if they are successful and retire from their sport with great honor, but can’t write an essay or are poorly articulated? Does it not matter because they have fame and money? What happens when a player is great at their college sport, and is “loved” and looked up to, but then they do terrible in the pros and are ridiculed and rejected? Where is the happiness and honor now?
I’m not saying that students shouldn’t have big dreams or that being a sports star is a ridiculous goal. I am also not saying that all high school and college athletes forsake their education or never return to school. What I am saying is that I feel like we are telling our students that education is a must, but if they have fame and money it does not matter. I feel that society tends to idealize those who have fame and money. And if fame and money do not come, “realistic” jobs are negatively seen as a second choice. As I have said in my other posts, the words “to be educated” means and does not mean a variety of things. Education does not make one a good and nobel person. Money does not make one a good and noble person. You see, if my future son and/or daughter were to be placed in a situation that would have them make a decision between education and money/fame in sports, I would tell them that the choice is theirs to make. The only words of advice that I would say is to do whatever you want as long as you help others and love God because that is your true purpose. I do not care how much education, fame or money one has. If they are living for themselves and have not done anything to help another, then their lives mean nothing. Their fame means nothing. Their money and education mean nothing. And it is my hope that my future children and others reading this will understand that that is where true happiness and honor lie.
Peace and Love